10 Years…


Well my 10 year high school reunion is coming up and that got me to thinking, back when I was a senior in high school I worked at a grocery store and never had any money or was that happy. I was under the impression that college and getting a “real” 9-5 job would change that. Then I decided to risk everything, drop out of college and start my own business. You know what happened? I worked my ass off and built a business that not only allowed me to do the things I wanted to do, I was able to meet some of the most amazing people in my life, travel to places I never thought I would see and most importantly feel like I was actually part of something important that benefited other people.


Why am I telling you this? Well for a two important reasons, the first and most important is to not listen to people who say “that’s a dumb idea” or “that’s impossible”. I’m sure you can imagine the conversation I had with my parents about wanting to drop out of college and start my own business, it was not pretty. And almost all of my friends at the time said to me, “that’s stupid” or “why would you do that”. If I would have listened them I could be working a job that not only I may not like that much, but that wouldn’t benefit other people. And of course there is the whole having a boss and everything that goes along with that. So do not get discouraged when people do not see your vision or think your course of action is dumb, remember you are doing this for yourself and not them.


I’ve sure you’ve heard the line “hard work pays off” and I really do agree with it. No one is going to become successful without putting in the work, in the real world there are no hand-outs. The problem with society is that most people settle and they never strive for more. Even people who have important jobs, how much work are they actually doing each day? You would be surprised really. When I was building my business I literally had no life, I worked 16-18 hour days, never went out, hardly had a social life. Yes this might not have been the best idea but all that work has paid off in the end. I never work long days like that anymore, I go out with friends all of the time, and I am able to jump on a plane to visit friends or family. Once you see that your hard work turns into larger paydays it becomes addictive. You would be surprised at how lazy people can be and the excuses that they make, don’t be one of those people.


In no way am I saying going to college and being funneled into 40+ hour work weeks at the same job for close to 40 years is a bad thing, I mean most of our society does it. But the alternative in my opinion is much for exciting and gratifying. Remember school and those jobs will always be there, take a chance.

In the end these past 10 years since my senior year of high school have been quite a fun ride and I don’t regret any minute of it.

Why I Decided to Live By My Own Rules and How You Can Too


Many people ask me how I got started doing what I’m doing and they story always ends up with me telling them how I took the leap of faith and dropped out of college to build my business and be able to work on it full time. This is scary for a lot of people, and I had no clue that things would work out when I made my decision, but I knew a few things that I wanted out of life and following the “right thing to do” path was not going to allow me to do those things, or at least not right away. Since making that decision I have done things I could have never dreamed about doing before, met some amazing people and most importantly I am my own boss.

Getting back to making the decision you know the only reason I was in college is again because it was “the right thing to do”. At that point in my life I really did not know what I wanted to do and nothing really excited me except for computers and technology. I went to college for information systems technology and honestly I was bored out of my mind in class, that got me to thinking what do I really want? I thought about that for a good while and I knew what I was really interested in, it was ThinkComputers. I loved reviewing tech products and the idea that I was building a community around the site really excited me and made me motivated. Thinking about it was I wondering if I could actually make a living off of it so I started spending more and more time on it. During this time I also thought about other things that I wanted. One big one was to be my own boss, I mean who likes taking orders right? I also wanted to feel like whatever my job was I was actually making a difference or contributing to something. So in the end ThinkComputers was a win-win for me. It took a lot of hard work, but I was able to make a business out of if.

Now I’m not at all saying college is a bad thing or that you shouldn’t go down that route. You can be extremely successful by going to college, it just was not for me at the time. One quote that reminds me of my journey figuring out what I wanted to do with my life is this:

“The commonsense rules of the “real world” are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.”

This quote is from Tim Ferris the author of the 4 Hour Work Week and basically it means that society has these rules that we are supposed to follow, but in reality we can do our own thing and it will be ok. Think about it, we are taught all through school that going to college is what you are supposed to do, then you are supposed to work a 9-5 or worse for 30+ years. Just think about that, sounds miserable right? Many of the worlds most successful people did not even complete college, but in the end that is not what this post is about. This post is about breaking away from the norm and doing your own thing.

So you know why and how I broke away and did my own thing, but how can you? Taking a large risk is hard for many people, but if you have the right mindset it is so much easier. Honestly I would suggest reading the 4 Hour Work Week. For me, it made me realize a lot, one of the most important things was that we don’t wish we had a million dollars, we wish we had the life that we believed that million dollars could buy. Believe me you don’t need to have a million dollars to live and enjoy life.

Once you have that mindset it will be so much easier for you to work on a project or to start your own company. Once you know the reward or have just tasted the reward a little bit, you are going to want it more and more and that will give you the motivation to really make it happen. That sort of what I did, I started to make money with ThinkComputers and month after month I was making more and more and I was only doing it part time. That was my taste and I knew if I was doing it full time I could make it a real business and not be stuck working an unfulfilling 9-5.

It’s been great living by my own rules and at times things have been hard, but I would never want to go back to the “real world” lifestyle that’s for sure. So if you are thinking about doing your own thing and going against the norm then go for it!

Stand Out with Your Own Personal Brand


I’ve always been a big proponent of having a personal brand. In plain terms your personal brand is what people know you for. Think about that for a second, what are you known for? I would assume when people think about me they know I’m the guy who runs ThinkComputers, takes photos of what he eats and maybe even a guy who gives good advice about running an online business. There are many platforms for building your own personal brand, which we will get into in a second, but why should you waste time building your personal brand?

Let me start with the people who don’t plan on running their own business. You may think that having a website or blog is not important, but when a hiring manager is looking over your resume how are you going to stand out from the rest of the pack? What if you have your resume on your unique website that showed your creative talent? What if you had a blog with thousands of readers / followers on the subject or industry that you are apply for the job in? That would make you stand out right?

What if building a personal brand could lead to a job or eventually help you start your own business? There have been so many examples of this over the past few years: Popular Vine users that have been hired by many companies to make creative Vine videos, Instagram users who take amazing food photos have been hired as food bloggers and there have been so many examples on YouTube. If you have a following and are good at something you become in demand and that can lead to a really cool gig or job, especially if you enjoy what you are doing.

Say you already have a big presence online. Let take for example myself and ThinkComputers. Everyone knows I write on ThinkComputers, but is that all they know me for? Having a personal brand allows me to take the people that may know me for ThinkComputers and turn them on to one of my other projects. This becomes incredibly valuable if your other project is selling a product or service. It is just another way to get customers, who already trust you because they know of your other content. That means they are more likely to purchase the product. Take Sean Ogle for example: I read his Location 180 blog, but I would have no clue about his products unless I read the blog. He mentions them in some of the posts and single I am already a fan of his blog I am more likely to buy one of his products.

So how do you start to build a personal brand? Here are a few ideas…

Start a website or blog
A website is the perfect place for people to find you. I use my website as a blog and you can do the same or use your website to talk about what you have done in the past, what projects you have worked on and just to tell people how awesome you are. I am a huge fan of people having their resume online in a creative manner, it really makes you stand out. Maybe you are selling a product and someone is like who is this Bob Buskirk guy? They Google my name and my blog is the first thing that comes up. They can then read the blog and see what I am all about.

Join Twitter
Are you not on twitter already? Twitter is a great way to not only communicate with people, but to build a following. I hate emailing back and forth with people. Twitter is a perfect way to communicate with people, ask questions and more. You can use twitter to link to your content online or maybe you will post a joke each day, something people will get to know you for. This will help you build a following and most importantly stand out.

Instagram is just like the photo version of Twitter, but it is another way to build a following. Many people know me on Instagram for posting food pictures. Is that a good thing? Well since I am known for that I have been invited to many different food events around the area and I have met some really cool people on Instagram over the past year. If you build a following on Instagram it can make you stand out.

You can also start to build your personal brand on Facebook, Vine or Google+.

What I am trying to get across in this post is that whether you run your own business or work a 9-5, do not underestimate the importance of having a personal brand or building a following. It could be the thing that gets you that really cool gig, that awesome job you applied for or helps you sell your product.

My First Quarterly Shipment

Just this week I received my first Quarterly Co shipment. Quarterly is a great startup that will send you physical items from people that you subscribe to. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of these services that send you a box per month of stuff. Quarterly is sort of like that but you get a box each quarter from a contributor that you subscribe to. It is basically like getting a box of cool stuff from someone you follow and are interested in. Some contributors include Veronica Belmont, Tim Ferriss, Chris Guillebeau and Pharrell Williams.

Each contributors cost is different, but they range from $25 to $100. Being a fan of Tim Ferriss I subscribed to him for $100 and just this week I received #TIM02, which was Tim’s second Quarterly shipment.

And here is what it included:

Edible Green Tea Powdered – $25
LSTN In-Ear Headphones – $50
Alpha Brain – $34.95
AMRAP Nutrition Bars – $23.95
Mini Work Tool – $9.95
Creative Whack Pack – $16
Spectacle (Book) – $33.80
Donors Choose Gift Card – $20

Total value: $213.65

Not bad getting all of that for $100! Here is Tim explaining each of the products in the box.

I think this service is great. I read Tim’s blog and I have his books so getting a box of goodies that he uses or is interested in is very cool. Even though you don’t know what’s in the box before you get it there is a good chance you are going to be interested in it since you decided to subscribe to that person. Also there is the excitement of getting the package as you don’t know what you are getting.

If you are interested in Quarterly check out their list of contributors and see if there is someone you are interested in. I’m really excited for the next Tim Ferriss shipment!

Building an Engaging Facebook Community

Facebook is one of the best places to build a community and help promote your brand and your website or blog. To be honest for a while I was very lazy when it came to Facebook marketing for ThinkComputers. Our “Likes” remained the same and there was not much engagement at all. This is never good if the end goal is to bring people from Facebook to the website. Over the past month I have really took the time to see what works on Facebook and how to get users engaged.

So many people think having the most followers or likes is best, but is it really? Say you have 5,000 likes on Facebook, but only 100 of those fans are engaged. That means if you post something at most 100 of those fans will even see your post yet even click on the link back to your website. On the other hand if I have 500 fans on Facebook and they all are engaged I have a better chance of people seeing my post and clicking the link back to my website. This is true for pretty much all social networks.

One thing that is great about Facebook is that they show publically how many engaged users you have. They call it “talking about this” and list is right by the number of likes your page has. Some pretty well known websites have horrible likes to “talking about this ratios”. Something like 16,000 likes but only 100 people talking about the site.

These people are not marketing their Facebook pages correctly and could be potentially losing sales, traffic to their website and much more. I would say a 5% ratio of Likes to “Talking about this” is good, but anything over 10% and you are doing a good job! Where does ThinkComputers sit?

That puts us at 36%, which is very good! So how do we get there? And how can you surge engagement like you see in the graph at the top of the page? There is no sure fire way that will work, but here is what I have done to get ThinkComputers where it is.

Constant Content
If you are going to want users to engage on your Facebook page you are going to want to post content. If you are a content site like ThinkComputers this is easy, but for other types of sites this may be hard. I would say at the very least post 1 post a day. Constant content will keep people coming back to your Facebook page and will also make it more likely that your posts will show up in the news feed.

Ask Questions
We use Facebook to try and bring people to our website, but you cannot make every post about that. Every once in awhile ask a question to your users. You would be surprised at the response. People are much more likely to comment when you ask a question and after they make that first comment they are more likely to keep on commenting on other posts. Questions are also a great way to gauge what your community is most interested in.

Post with Images
This is a big one, every post you make should contain an image. So many people are lazy and just let WordPress auto-post to Facebook, but that just puts a link on there with a small thumbnail. If you use a larger image the post will get more traction and people will be more likely to share the photo as well. Also the larger image takes up more real estate on a user’s news feed so it will get more attention. Don’t be lazy, schedule your posts through Facebook using a large image for each post.

Contests are a great way to get new likes and spread the word about your page. Give something away and require users to Like your page and share a contest photo (example). This way you are getting new likes plus that person is spreading the word about your page which will lead to new likes and even more shares of your photo. Also if you team up with a company to give away one of their products make sure you ask them to post about it on their Facebook page as well.

Check Stats
The best thing about Facebook pages is that you can track everything. The Page Insights show you likes, people talking about your page, friends of fans, weekly total reach and much more. You can even see the reach of each of your individual posts. Use this information to refine things and see what works best.

So that is how I’ve really started to build the ThinkComputers Facebook community. If you have any questions or want to share your tips leave them in the comments below.